04/02/2024, 17.53
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Landmines kill again in Afghanistan: 11 children die, five wounded in one day

Unexploded ordnance killed the children in two separate incidents, local authorities report. Since the Taliban seized power again, several demining organisations have been forced to leave. In 2022, an average of two fatalities were recorded per day.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Landmines continue to kill the most vulnerable in Afghanistan.

Some 11 children have died and five have been wounded in two separate incidents in the provinces of Ghazni, in the east of the country, and Herat, in the north-west.

Nine children died in Giro district, Taliban authorities report, while in the Rabat-e-Sangi district, two children aged 10 to 15 died and five more were wounded.

In both cases, the children were playing with the unexploded ordnance, local sources said.

Afghanistan remains one of the countries with the most remnants of war in the world.

According to UN figures, nearly 57,000 civilians have been wounded or killed by landmines since 1989.

According to UNICEF, in 85 per cent of cases, the victims are children who unintentionally step on mines or pick up unexploded ordnance found where they live, play or do household chores.

In 2022, 700 children died or were maimed, an average of two per day, the UN children's agency noted, while data from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) show that, between January 2022 and June 2023, 541 explosions were recorded, resulting in the death of 640 children.

Since the Taliban retook Afghanistan in August 2021, several demining associations have fled the country.

The imposition of new restrictions on civilians, especially women, and the loss of foreign funding (frozen because the international community by and large refuses to recognise the Taliban regime as legitimate) have blocked the work of foreign agencies, which chose to leave.

The ICRC, in particular, has repeatedly stressed that the lack of funding is the biggest obstacle to mine clearance operations.

“The dramatic drop in resources and funding had an equally dramatic impact on efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance,” ICRC said in a statement.

“There is, however, still a desperate need for the international community to provide technical and financial assistance to reduce the number of human casualties caused by unexploded devices,” the organisation added.

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